How Long to Prep for PMI-ACP Exam

How to Prep for the PMI-ACP Exam: Tips + More

Earning the PMI-ACP certification is a major career boost. It proves to employers you have mastered agile approaches. But make no mistake – the exam is tough. How long until you’re ready to pass? That depends on three key factors. Your current agile experience level, any knowledge gaps you have in the exam content areas, and the number of hours per week you can dedicate to studying.

In this blog, we’ll share expert advice on preparing for the PMI-ACP Exam.

Ultimate Guide to PMI-ACP Certification

Download the Ultimate Guide to learning about the PMI-ACP Certification.

Importance of the PMI-ACP Exam & Study Plans

The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® exam is a critical milestone for professionals seeking to validate their expertise in agile project management. Designed to assess a candidate’s understanding and application of agile principles and practices, the PMI-ACP certification is recognized globally across industries. To ensure success on this rigorous exam, it’s essential for candidates to create a personalized study plan that fits their learning style, schedule, and knowledge gaps.

When crafting your study plan, we recommend allocating at least 2 to 3 months for preparation. This timeline allows you to dive deep into the exam content, reinforce your understanding of agile concepts, and practice applying them in real-world scenarios. Start by familiarizing yourself with the exam structure and domains, and then assess your current knowledge and experience in each area.

7 Steps to Prepare for PMI-ACP Exam

Preparing for the Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) exam can feel like an overwhelming task, no matter how advanced your project management skills may be. The lengthy and complex nature of the exam requires extensive preparation – which, naturally, raises the question:

  1. Enroll in a PMI-Authorized Exam Prep Bootcamp: Participating in an exam prep bootcamp course is crucial. These courses are tailored to provide the necessary contact training hours for the exam application and to comprehensively cover the exam content.
  2. Schedule Your Exam 4-6 Weeks After the Class: It is strategic to schedule your exam for 4-6 weeks after completing the bootcamp course. This timeframe allows for an intensive period of study and practice, leveraging the fresh knowledge and skills acquired during the course. It also provides a clear deadline to structure your preparation around, ensuring focused and efficient study.
  3. Study Materials in PMI’s ACP Reference List: Beyond the Agile Practice Guide, PMI recommends a range of materials essential for exam preparation. Engage deeply with all the resources listed to expand your understanding and application of agile practices. Pay particular attention to the Exam Content Outline.
  4. Take Ample Practice Tests: Getting comfortable with the exam’s format and question styles is key to building confidence. Regular practice tests will not only help you identify areas that need more attention but also improve your ability to perform under exam conditions.
  5. Remember the Agile Focus: Agile methodologies emphasize empowering teams and embracing adaptability over sticking rigidly to processes. Ensure that your study and exam strategies reflect this ethos, with answers that align with the principles of agility.

Study Tips for the PMI-ACP Exam

With these preparation strategies and test-taking tips, you can create an efficient study plan, comprehend Agile better and ultimately succeed in getting PMI-ACP certified.

Effective Study Strategies

  • Create a realistic weekly study schedule that sets aside dedicated hours to learn Agile principles and concepts
  • Use PMI handbooks and guides as primary study materials, supplemented by online resources
  • Join a study group to discuss confusing topics, keep motivated through peer collaboration
  • Take mock tests regularly to get familiar with exam format and gauge concept comprehension
  • Focus on understanding and applying Agile values rather than racing to memorize trivial facts

Efficient Last-Minute Review

  • Identify weaker knowledge areas through practice tests and devote more review time to those topics
  • Quickly skim key bullet points, charts and summaries to refresh memory rather than reading full passages
  • Use active recall techniques to boost retention by articulating concepts from memory
  • Take a mock exam to check final readiness levels for the real test
  • Use disappointments constructively to know what topics need more work, not as demotivators

By adopting these preparation strategies and test-taking tips, you can create an efficient study plan, comprehend Agile better and ultimately succeed in getting PMI-ACP certified.

PMI-ACP Exam Requirements

Before diving into exam prep, fully grasp the PMI-ACP requirements first. To get a passing grade requires a good breadth of knowledge across all those topic areas. So, let’s start by analyzing the requirements that students need to meet to sit for the exam.

Prerequisites to qualify for the PMI-ACP exam:

  • Obtain secondary degree (high school diploma or associate’s degree minimum)
  • Accrue 2,000 hours general project management experience
  • Earn 1,500 hours working on agile projects or with agile methodologies
  • Complete 21 training hours focused on agile approaches and principles
  • 12 months of general project experience within the last 5 years (a current PMP® or PgMP® will satisfy this requirement)
  • 8 months of agile project experience within the last 3 years

These prerequisites ensure that candidates have a foundational understanding of project management practices and agile methodologies before attempting the exam. PMI might even require you to submit to an audit prior to taking the exam.

PMI-ACP reqirements

Understanding the Exam Structure & Content Outline

When exam day comes, you’ll need to prove knowledge across several domains, tackling 120 multiple-choice questions in just 3 hours at approved test centers globally. The test covers the agile basics – Scrum, Kanban, Lean and beyond. Be ready to recall concepts, practices, tools – even underlying principles.

Now here’s the catch: 100 of those questions are scored but 20 are experimental pilot questions randomly mixed in. You won’t know which are which. The extras allow PMI to validate new test questions for the future without impacting your results.

PMI-ACP Exam: Breakdown of Questions per Domain

DomainQuestions on Exam
Domain 1: Agile Principles & Mindset16%
Domain 2: Value-Driven Delivery20%
Domain 3: Stakeholder Engagement17%
Domain 4: Team Performance16%
Domain 5: Adaptive Planning12%
Domain 6: Problem Detection & Resolution10%
Domain 7: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)9%

For a more detailed breakdown, please review the PMI-ACP Exam Content Outline (ECO) handbook.

PMI-ACP Exam: Study the Domains & Tasks

The PMI-ACP exam tests a project manager’s ability to apply agile principles and practices across seven interrelated domains and tasks. The tasks within each domain of the PMI-ACP exam play a crucial role in assessing your ability to apply agile principles and practices in real-world scenarios. These tasks represent the specific activities, responsibilities, and skills that an agile practitioner is expected to perform within each domain.

For example, in the “Stakeholder Engagement” domain, tasks may include:

  • Identify and analyze stakeholder needs
  • Plan and manage stakeholder engagement
  • Communicate effectively and manage stakeholder expectations

Think of the tasks as a way to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. They are designed to evaluate your understanding of agile concepts and how well you can apply them to solve problems, make decisions, and deliver value in an agile environment.

Domain 1: Agile Principles & Mindset – 9 Tasks

Having an agile mindset means embracing concepts like value-driven delivery, adapting to change, empowering teams, and continuous improvement. Exam questions will assess comprehension of values and principles that underpin agile approaches.

Domain I: Agile Principles & MindsetTasks
Task 1Advocate for agile principles to develop a shared mindset by modeling and discussing them.
Task 2Ensure common understanding of agile values and practices for effective teamwork.
Task 3Support organizational change by educating and influencing for efficiency.
Task 4Use information radiators to enhance transparency and trust through visible progress.
Task 5Create a safe environment for experimentation and learning from mistakes.
Task 6Foster creativity by experimenting with new techniques for better ways of working.
Task 7Promote knowledge sharing and collaboration to minimize risks and bottlenecks.
Task 8Encourage emergent leadership for innovation and self-organization in a safe environment.
Task 9Practice servant leadership to support and encourage improvement and peak performance.

Domain 2: Value-Focused Delivery – 4 Sub-Domains, 14 Tasks

A core skill is delivering regular increments that stakeholders truly value. This requires clarifying priorities, obtaining frequent feedback, and aligning outputs to business objectives. Questions will cover techniques like minimum viable products and prioritized backlogs.

Domain II: Value-Driven DeliveryTasks
Define Positive Value
Task 1Define deliverables incrementally to maximize stakeholder value and minimize unnecessary work.
Task 2Refine requirements with consensus on acceptance criteria for timely value delivery.
Task 3Tailor the team’s process to optimize value delivery based on project, organizational characteristics, and team experience.
Avoid Potential Downsides
Task 4Plan for small releasable increments to allow early value delivery and risk identification.
Task 5Limit increment size and increase review frequency to identify and respond to risks early.
Task 6Solicit frequent customer and user feedback to confirm and enhance business value.
Task 7Collaborate with stakeholders to prioritize work units for optimal deliverable value.
Task 8Regularly review and maintain work results to prioritize and maintain quality, reducing incremental development costs.
Task 9Identify and prioritize factors to improve deliverable quality and value.
Incremental Development
Task 10Conduct reviews with stakeholders for feedback and corrections on work in progress and planned.
Task 11Balance deliverable development and risk reduction to maximize value over time.
Task 12Periodically re-prioritize requirements to reflect changes and maximize value.
Task 13Elicit and prioritize relevant non-functional requirements to minimize failure probability.
Task 14Frequently review work products to identify and incorporate process and product improvements.

Domain 3: Stakeholder Engagement – 3 Sub-Domains, 9 Tasks

Crucial is fostering trust and participation from all stakeholders through transparency, active collaboration, and expectation management around tradeoffs. Exam will evaluate communication and relationship-building abilities.

Domain III: Stakeholder EngagementTasks
Understand Stakeholder Needs
Task 1Engage with empowered stakeholders through periodic reviews to understand their needs and expectations.
Task 2Identify and engage all stakeholders for knowledge sharing throughout the project for unimpeded information flow.
Ensure Stakeholder Involvement
Task 3Establish relationships with key stakeholders through working agreements to enhance collaboration.
Task 4Keep stakeholders properly involved by assessing project and organizational changes to engage new stakeholders as needed.
Task 5Foster collaborative behaviors for group decision making and conflict resolution to improve decision quality and speed.
Manage Stakeholder Expectations
Task 6Develop a shared vision for project increments to align stakeholder expectations and build trust.
Task 7Maintain a shared understanding of success criteria and deliverables to align expectations and trust.
Task 8Ensure transparency in work status to aid stakeholders in making informed decisions.
Task 9Provide forecasts balancing certainty needs with adaptability benefits to enable effective stakeholder planning.

Domain 4: Team Performance – 3 Sub-Domains, 9 Tasks

Nurturing self-organized, cross-functional teams is vital. Assessing group dynamics, resolving conflicts, encouraging experimentation, and improving team skills will be tested.

Domain IV: Team PerformanceTasks
Team Formation
Task 1Work with team members to establish ground rules and internal processes for team cohesion and shared goals commitment.
Task 2Help form a team with the necessary interpersonal and technical skills for achieving project objectives efficiently.
Team Empowerment
Task 3Encourage team members to become versatile experts to reduce bottlenecks and foster a high-performing team.
Task 4Support self-organization and emerging leadership for effective solutions and complexity management.
Task 5Identify team and personal motivators to maintain high morale and productivity.
Team Collaboration and Commitment
Task 6Enhance communication within the team and with stakeholders using co-location or collaboration tools to minimize miscommunication.
Task 7Minimize distractions to ensure predictable outcomes and optimize delivered value.
Task 8Align project and team goals by sharing the project vision, ensuring team objectives are integrated with overall goals.
Task 9Promote tracking team velocity for a better understanding of capacity and more accurate forecasting.

Domain 5: Adaptive Planning – 3 Sub-Domains, 10 Tasks

Planning in agile projects must be flexible and responsive to change. Exam will assess abilities to develop rolling wave plans, continually revisit estimates and schedules, and adjust based on new learnings.

Domain V: Adaptive PlanningTasks
Levels of Planning
Task 1Plan at multiple levels with appropriate detail using rolling wave planning to balance predictability with flexibility.
Task 2Make planning visible and transparent to increase stakeholder commitment and reduce uncertainty.
Task 3Manage stakeholder expectations with increasingly specific commitments as the project progresses.
Task 4Adapt planning based on retrospective insights to maximize value.
Task 5Regularly update the project plan based on changes and feedback to ensure maximum business value.
Agile Sizing and Estimation
Task 6Size items using progressive elaboration to estimate project size independently of team velocity.
Task 7Adjust capacity to account for maintenance, operations, and other factors for accurate range estimates.
Task 8Create initial scope, schedule, and cost estimates to provide a project management starting point.
Task 9Refine estimates to reflect the latest project understanding for effective management.
Task 10Continuously update estimates using changes in capacity, project size, and velocity for accurate completion predictions.

Domain 6: Problem Detection and Resolution – 5 Tasks

Detecting impediments rapidly and resolving them effectively is critical. Questions will evaluate approach to root cause analysis, process improvements, risk monitoring, and overcoming recurrent issues.

Domain VI: Problem Detection and ResolutionTasks
Task 1Foster an open, safe environment for conversations and experimentation to identify and address problems.
Task 2Educate and engage the team to identify and resolve threats and issues timely, and improve processes.
Task 3Ensure resolution by appropriate team members or reset expectations for unresolved issues to maximize value.
Task 4Keep a visible, monitored, and prioritized list of threats and issues to track ownership and resolution.
Task 5Maintain transparency by communicating the status of threats and incorporating them into the work backlog.

Domain 7: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People) – 6 Tasks

An agile mindset demands regular reflection on improving products, processes, teams, and leadership. Exam will test knowledge of various retrospective, review, and refinement methods for continual optimization.

Domain VII: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)Tasks
Task 1Tailor and adapt the project process through regular reviews to align with team practices and organizational goals.
Task 2Conduct frequent retrospectives and experiments to continuously improve team and project effectiveness.
Task 3Seek product feedback through incremental delivery and demos to enhance product value.
Task 4Foster a continuous learning environment to develop a productive team of versatile experts.
Task 5Challenge and streamline processes by value stream analysis to remove waste and improve efficiency.
Task 6Disseminate knowledge across projects and the organization to prevent problem recurrence and boost overall effectiveness.


Whether you’re new to agile methodologies or have existing experience, creating a tactical study plan is key to success on the PMI-ACP exam. While preparation time needed depends on your knowledge gaps, be sure to use the PMI handbooks as formal guides, complemented by ample practice tests to get familiar with the exam format and reinforce your learning. More than just prepping to pass an exam, use this as an opportunity to truly comprehend adaptive ways of managing projects.

FAQ: How long does it take to prepare for the PMI-ACP exam?

While it’s tough to nail down a precise timeline due to the individuality in how people learn, most experts agree that a well-prepared candidate should anticipate devoting around two to three months of focused, consistent study. With this investment, you’ll broaden your knowledge, sharpen your decision-making skills, and boost your confidence, making you well-prepared for whatever the exam may throw your way.

Author profile
PMA Logo
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO
Director of Product Development at
Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO